It’s difficult to plan for the unexpected, but it’s good practice to have a few ‘just-in-case’ back-up options! Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to the road, these basic guidelines can help you navigate the unexpected.
1. Stay Charged
Avoid the frustration of dead devices. Maintain a lifeline by plugging in your phone, laptop, and other electronics. A portable charger will save you from limited battery life! A charged phone is pretty crucial during an emergency, especially if you require data service.
2. Personalized Insurance Coverage
Your insurance plan should fit your needs. From health care to your home and car insurance to travel, your coverage is designed to keep you comfortable and secure. It’s important to shop around frequently, especially as life changes. Priorities and expectations change, and so should your insurance.
Brian and I tend to explore different insurance options every 2 years. It never hurts to compare and contrast (and negotiate!) plans. Take a look at your lifestyle and select plans tailored to your own needs. For example, we selected Geico car insurance because we enjoyed the ease of the Geico Mobile app, roadside assistance service with included towing, and overall price. Additionally, we have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which provides a number of travel protection services including trip cancellation insurance, rental insurance coverage, and trip delay reimbursement.
3. Access to Adequate Emergency Fund
An emergency fund should cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. It acts as a financial cushion to keep you afloat during life’s surprises. This account should be accessible for easy transfer and withdrawal if you find yourself in a dire situation of need (not want!). A number of unexpected circumstances can happen while you’re on the road: a family emergency, car trouble, or even a medical mishap. Your emergency fund can help you offset some of these surprise costs!
4. Keep your Worst-Case Budget in Mind
Nothing is permanent. I’m of the mindset that one should try not to get too comfortable in life. Life is an ever-changing myriad of ebb and flow moments. Keeping your worst-case budget in mind allows you to understand your bare minimum necessities. Not only does it foster awareness and appreciation for the life you create beyond your necessities, but it also maintains logic in moments of stress.
Emergencies or unexpected occurrences aren’t likely at the forefront of your thoughts when vacationing or traveling. However, if and when they happen, you will be much more prepared to think clearly if you already have an idea of your expenses. The consideration and analysis of a worst-case budget prepares you to understand your situation in numbers and facts. How much can you spare for a week-long interruption? Or a day? What can you push back or offset? Asking yourself these questions keeps you accountable under pressure.
5. Stash Cash in Charles Schwab
You might be surprised to learn that many places still prefer good ol’ cash over credit. In fact, Brian and I have found ourselves in places that ONLY accept cash. The Charles Schwab Checking Account is a great asset to travel! Charles Schwab does not charge any foreign transaction fees AND it reimburses ATM fees worldwide.
Brian and I keep a small chunk of change in this account just in case we need cash on the road. We love the freedom and benefits this account provides. Not only has it been our friend in Vegas, but it’s also been fantastic to us in Ireland, Italy, and beyond.
6. Be Open to Options
The Type A in me tends to ‘collect‘ alternatives. Variety is the spice of life, no? As I might have mentioned in the past, my preferred travel style consists of loose itineraries that allow for change. If you’re open to options, you’re more flexible to change. What happens when you encounter unexpected situations? Circumstances change. Be open to explore other options. Ultimately, different options lead to different experiences. It’s all about perspective!
7. In Case of Separation
If you’re traveling with a partner or group, do not keep one person in charge of money, documents, and itineraries. What happens in case you become accidentally separated?! Create a game plan that works for each person in case this happens.
- Pre-arrange a designated location to meet
- Have accessible copies of trip itineraries
- Ensure each person has a little bit of cash or a credit card on hand
- Make sure each person has important contact information
- Consider and discuss cell phone/internet access for communication (especially for trips abroad)
Things can get a little scary if you’re completely stranded with no way to contact your partner or group. It’s important to have an idea of what to do in case you get separated.
Pro Tip: We recommend sending your itinerary to a trusted family member or friend back home. Brian and I do this when we travel internationally, especially if we plan to trek through more remote areas. You never know what can happen!
8. Ask for Help
Asking for help requires a good gut instinct. Do not shy away from asking people questions in unfamiliar situations, but be sure to exercise common sense and street smarts. You don’t want to make a situation even more difficult or scary for yourself just because you are too afraid to ask someone for help.
The first rule of asking for help is to be comfortable with yourself. You must know and understand your own limits. Trust yourself and your gut. If you tried to figure out the answer, but you were unsuccessful, then think about the problem to really determine the right questions to ask. Approach those you think might be able to help you out (again – use your gut!).
Ultimately, you don’t want to wait until something goes wrong. What I mean by this is that you should constantly observe and ask others how they handle certain things. Remain curious and never stop learning.
Accept the Unexpected
How boring would it be if life turned out exactly the way we all planned? While we might all prefer our travels to be experienced as expected, life just doesn’t happen that way. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re on the road. Enjoy the twists and turns, stay as prepared as you can, and leave some room for change.
I really thought this post was a segue into your latest car adventure. I’m glad that you handled that with grace. Not many people do. Yes, it’s best to be aware that things don’t always go as planned.
I don’t remember the military general, the quote has been attributed to Eisenhower, Patton, Rommel, Caesar, probably many others, but it goes something like this “No battle plan exists beyond the first contact.”. You can spend countless hours preparing a plan, account for every contingency that you can imagine, and still have to regroup after the first “ooops”.
When we took that trip to Italy we hit all kinds of issues, from missing the first day, having to fly into Switzerland, finding that our luggage never left Atlanta, and taking the wrong train into Rome. We look back at that trip with a fond memories of what not to do and still having a good time.
Thank you! It’s just another adventure for the books 🙂
That’s a great quote and it certainly rings true. You can’t ever be 100% prepared for what life throws at you, but it helps to at least have a healthy outlook. The Italy trip sounded like quite the doozy, but worth it for the memories! What a crazy fun adventure.